The template for a cool set of wheels used to be a two-door coupe and a hairy V-8. Period.
But times, and tastes, change. Thanks in no small part to Asia and Europe-where highly tuned, high-tech four-doors do battle on the track and command respect on the showroom floor-U.S. drivers needn't sacrifice real performance for practicality.
This spring, Fullerton-based Yokohama Tire Corp.'s new AVID H4s/ V4s will target the sweet spot where power and style often collide with checkbook reality.
The H4s/V4s, designed to be comfortable for drivers and their budgets, ``is what consumers want and dealers need,'' said Mark Richter, Yokohama's performance marketing manager.
High on drivers' wish lists is value, and the new all-season tire carries a Uniform Tire Quality Grading rating of 500 A AA.
Protection comes in the form of a 60,000-mile written warranty and a 30-day trial ``satisfaction'' guarantee.
In the engineering department, the H4s/V4s features a new tread compound and directional design, including a center rib that, according to Yokohama, enhances on-center feel and stability at speed. Four wide grooves handle rain and snow better, while beefy shoulder blocks help grip better in cornering.
With 33 sizes-from P185/60R14 to 225/40R18-the new AVID will fit a staggering range of cars, including mild Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords, to sporty upscale BMW 3 series, Acura TL and Lexus IS300, to the traditional performance platforms like the Ford Mustang and Pontiac Firebird.
When the new tire rolls out, Yokohama will launch a ``speed and spa getaway'' promotion in print, cable and television.
The three grand prizes will be weekend driving classes at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School in northern California, including a room and $500 spending cash at the nearby Lodge at Sonoma. Other prizes will be sets of H4s/V4s tires and Pioneer mobile electronics packages.
During the AVID press briefing at last fall's Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas, Yokohama officials said the tire was developed for consumers aged 25-50 who have ``high quality standards.''
``(Consumers) no longer have to sacrifice ride comfort and a quiet ride for outstanding all-season high performance,'' a Yokohama spokesman said. ``Our belief is that the AVID H4s/V4s will be our most popular broadline performance tire to date.''